Mali Siege: At least 22 dead, 2 gunmen killed; all hostages freed

Bamako: Armed Islamic extremists on Friday stormed a deluxe hotel in Mali's captial Bamako locking in 170 people, killing at least 22 of them, while 20 captured Indians were evacuated without any harm.

Nine hours after the siege of the Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital town by extremists in a hail of fire from automatic guns, security minister Salif Traore announced the end of the hostage crisis after two gunmen were killed by security forces.

"They currently have no more hostages in their hands and forces are in the process of tracking them down," security minister Salif Traore told a news conference following the stand-off.

"Eighteen bodies were found," a foreign security source said on condition of anonymity, adding that French special forces from neighbouring Burkina Faso were in the hotel and "participating in operations alongside Malians".

MaliMalian troops take position outside the Radisson Blu hotel in Bamako. Gunmen went on a shooting rampage at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel in Mali's capital Bamako, seizing 170 guests and staff in an ongoing hostage-taking, the hotel chain said. Pic/AFP

"#MaliAttack: Acc'g to current info there are 20 Indians staying in the hotel. Our Amb is continuously in touch with them & monitor'g sitn," Swarup tweeted.

The Ministry Spokesperson said the Indian Ambassador was in touch with the nationals and spoke to them, indicating that they were safe so far. 

"According to the current information, there are 20 Indians staying in the hotel. Our Ambassador is continuously in touch with them and monitoring the situation," the spokesperson said.

These nationals are employees of a Dubai-based company and were staying in the hotel permanently, he added.

The Radisson Blu hotel chain said two armed men locked in 140 guests and 30 employees, CNN reported.

At least three hostages have been killed after the gunmen went on a shooting rampage at the luxury Radisson Blu hotel on Friday.

The victims comprised two Malian citizens and a French national, authorities said.

Malian security forces are storming the hotel and at least a dozen hostages have been freed after the attack by "two or three" assailants, a spokesman for the security ministry said.

Security sources said the gunmen entered the hotel compound at around 12:30 IST in a car that had diplomatic plates. Automatic weapons fire was heard outside the 190-room hotel in the city centre, with the ministry spokesman saying at least three hostages had been killed.

The armed men came in a diplomatic vehicle earlier in the day, firing as they entered the hotel, said witness Amadou Keita, who works at a cultural centre nearby. The firing went on for several minutes, he said.

Chinese state news agency Xinhua said at least seven Chinese nationals were among the hostages, while Turkish Airlines said six of its staff were caught up in the attack. 

Two freed female hostages -- a Turkish aviation worker and an Ivorian woman who was at the Radisson for an economic conference -- said they saw the body of a fair-skinned man lying on the floor of the hotel.

A paramedic said three security guards had been wounded, including one who was in a critical condition after being shot.  

Malian soldiers with help from UN troops surrounded the hotel.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the incident.

The Radisson Blu hotel is about 15 minutes away from Bamako Senou International Airport.

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